AFRICAN LITERARY TITAN: CHINUA ACHEBE HONOURED WORLD WIDE, GIVEN HIGHEST NIGERIAN AWARD
CHINUA Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930 and raised in the village of Ogidi, one of the first centres of Anglican missionary work in eastern Nigeria.
A graduate of University College, Ibadan, his early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as director of external broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War.
Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic and fundraising missions.
He was later appointed senior research fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad. For over 15 years, he was a professor of languages and literature at Bard College in New York and from 2009 until his death he was professor of Africana studies at Brown University in Rhode Island.
During his career he wrote novels like Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease, Arrow Of God and Anthills of the Savannah, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize; volumes of poetry including Beware, Soul Brother and Christmas in Biafra, the short-story collection Girls at War, and the children’s book How the Leopard Got His Claws.
He received numerous honours, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honorary doctorates from more than 30 colleges and universities, and Nigeria’s highest award for intellec- tual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.
While he was lauded worldwide, Achebe, who was confined to a wheelchair following a car accident in 1990, never won the Nobel prize for literature, unlike his fellow Nigerian Wole Soyinka, who became the first African Nobel literature laureate in 1986.
— Arts Editor/Sapa-AFP/Reuters.